According to the Gay British Crime Survey 2013, compiled by Stonewall, one in ten LBGT people were physically abused in an act of hate crime in the previous three years, and twice that number were threatened with violence. Of the attacks that took place, two thirds were carried out by men who were unknown to the victim and half of these were carried out by men under the age of 25.
Whilst members of the LBGT community continue to feel under threat from homophobic physical assault, it’s no wonder that many people including females, are wanting to learn self-defence, should the worst happen. Throughout the country there are a growing number of self-defence courses being set up to cater for this increased demand. One such high profile course is offered by the University of London, which combines martial arts and personal awareness training to help LBGT students “better understand their personal safety and give them the confidence to protect themselves.”
For those who are averse to joining a self-defence class but still want some advice on how to protect themselves when threatened with attack, there are a number of fairly easy techniques to use.
The priority should always be to try to prevent the attack happening in the first place, and there are a number of steps that can be done to do this. Firstly, people should avoid situations in which they make themselves vulnerable to attack. Attacks are less likely in busy places and especially so if the person threatened is with other people. Being drunk or under the influence of drugs also makes people easy targets. LGBT people in threatening situations need to be aware of their surroundings and should seek the help of others.
Remember that in most cases, the aggressor is looking for an easy target. If they continue to threaten, it’s important to maintain eye contact. By doing this, the person threatened is showing that they are not intimidated and this will often lead to the aggressor backing down.
Whilst any confrontation is taking place, it’s important for the victim to stay calm and focused. The aggressor will want the victim to give them a reason for striking out. So, do not accept any challenge, retaliate with insults or strike out first. Walking away can help, but if the bully is truly intent on attacking, it gives them the perfect opportunity to strike whilst the victim is most at risk.
If the aggressor begins to attack, the first thing the victim should do is shout out at them to get off. This lets others know they are under attack and lets the attacker know they are not an easy target. This may lead to intervention by others or make the attacker think twice about continuing.
Once the attack has started, it’s even more important to stay in control. Rather than simply hitting out, any counter attack needs to be done where it is likely to have the greatest impact on the aggressor; the eyes, nose, neck, groin, knees and legs. The victim should always use their arms to attack the top half of an aggressor’s body and the legs for the bottom half. How close the attacker is should determine where it is best to strike them. Avoid getting too close as this might cause the attacker to attempt a body hold to put the victim on the ground and make them more vulnerable.
To make it easier to escape a physical assault, it is always best to strike in places that will cause the attacker pain. The victim can scratch, poke, or even gouge the aggressor’s eyes or use the heel of the hand to stun their nose – both of which would hurt enough to give time to get away from the confrontation.
Other strikes that can be useful include chopping the side of neck using a flat hand to stun an assailant, or kicking their knee, particularly from the side, which will knock them off balance.
Victims should always remember that the aim of self-defence is to protect oneself – you have a legal right to do so. However, once there is an opportunity to escape it should be taken. If the aggressor is down and out, do not continue attacking; stop and leave. This will protect you from any legal complaint made by the aggressor
For more detailed instructions on self-defence, it is highly recommended that individuals take part in organised classes run by qualified instructors, whether ones for the general public or ones specifically set up for the LBGT community.